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Humanities & Identities

Annual Headline Series 2016-18

With funding from the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, TORCH’s Headline Series for 2016-18 is Humanities & Identities. The series will focus on multiple research areas relating to diversity including race, gender, sexuality, disability, poverty, class, religion and inequality.

The Headline Series was launched in January 2017 by a distinguished panel of experts from across the humanities, cultural and political sectors to explore the question 'What Does Diversity Mean to Me?' The event, opened by Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson (University of Oxford), discussed a range of themes and issues relating to diversity, inclusion and equality, and was signed in British Sign Language. You can watch the video here.

The Humanities & Identities series is continuing to be explored through a series of high profile talks, workshops, performances, conversations, and a diversity-themed Book at Lunchtime series throughout the year. These events are showcasing research and providing opportunities for involvement at all career stages, including graduate and early career; through funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, there are several research opportunities available.

Humanities & Identities Research Opportunities

Mellon 'Humanities & Identities' Knowledge Exchange Fellowships
2 x £10,000 were available for Fellowships to be used for small staff buyout (teaching replacement) and activity/facilitation funds for the Knowledge Exchange activity. Knowledge exchange – as distinct from public impact or engagement – encourages a two-way research relationship between academics and organizations, in either the public or private sector, which are actively engaged in promoting diversity, broadly defined.

This opportunity has now closed.

The first awardee is Dr Marie Tidball for her project on 'Amplifying Inclusion: living disability narratives and law for the next generation'. You can read more on Marie and her project here.

Mellon 'Humanities & Identities' Post-Doctoral Researcher
Proposals were invited from postholders in the Humanities Faculties at the University of Oxford for a 3-year Mellon Early Career Fellow to work on interdisciplinary ‘race and culture’-centred project/s. The post-doctoral researcher (PDR) will have curricular reform and/or ‘the Global South’ as a focus. The PDR will have responsibility for driving and shaping the other strands of the ‘Humanities & Identities’ programme, ensuring throughout that the work of modelling and agenda-setting will proceed in an interdisciplinary and cross-faculty way, and will reach out beyond Oxford to other institutions nationally and internationally.

This opportunity has now closed. Details of the successful candidate will be announced shortly.

Mellon Visiting ‘Global South’ Professorships (5) and Mellon ‘Global South’ Fellowships (5)
Applications from Oxford Humanities academics to host a visiting ‘Global South’ Professorship or Fellowship during 2017 or 2018 were called for, seeking applications specifically from institutions in the Global South, including from India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Philippines, Mauritius, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and across Southern Africa and the Caribbean.

The Mellon Global South Professorships together with the Mellon Global South Visiting Fellowships will be crucial in the work of providing role models and embedding expectations on diversity and inclusivity in the wider University. The two schemes build on and reinforce existing links between Oxford (including TORCH), Mellon, and universities in the countries named above.

The first of the fellowships have been awarded to Professor Rosinka Chaudhuri and Professor Marcio Goldman. 

Mellon Humanities & Identities Conference & Workshop Funding
We welcome proposals from researchers in the humanities for workshops/conferences relating to the headline theme ‘Humanities & Identities’. £500-£1000 sums are available for this. Please see here for more information and deadlines.

Past workshops supported through this funding include:

'Whither Death?' workshop co-hosted by Dr Helen Swift (Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford) and Dr Jessica Goodman (Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford). Watch the TORCH Talk here.

Humanities & Identities Events and Conferences
Throughout the series, there are a range of seminars, workshops and conferences taking place with identity and humanities research at their core.

Humanities & Identities Public Seminar Series:
Reading Bass Culture: Linton Kwesi Johnson and Paul Gilroy in Conversation
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race: Reni Eddo-Lodge in Conversation

Disability and Curriculum Diversity Seminar Series:
A series of seminars with leading academics, practitioners, campaigners and commentators brought together to discuss disability issues, education and reform.

You can watch videos of the previous seminars here: Diversifying the Curriculum: Disability Narratives and HistoriesAutonomy, Community, Destiny: Re-Imagining Disability and Valuing Women with Disabilities: Infantilised, Medicalised, Pauperised?

Book at Lunchtime:
Each term, TORCH's flagship event series Book at Lunchtime brings together Oxford academics in the humanities to discuss new humanities books at bite-sized interdisciplinary, lunchtime discussions. The following will take place during Trinity Term 2018.

In Search of the Phoenicians 
Art and Emergency: Modernism in Twentieth-Century India
Thomas Aquinas and Bodily Identity
Cultural Citizenship in India

There are also events and discussions on humanities and identities related research hosted by TORCH Networks and Programmes. See the respective pages for further information.

Mobile Apps
TORCH and the Pitt Rivers Museum have been awarded funding from the IT Innovation Fund to create two mobile apps to share Oxford’s diverse voices, stories, research and collections with members of the University and the public.

Oxford Alternative Stories App
The 'Oxford Alternative Stories' mobile app takes TORCH and researchers from a wide-range of disciplines to the city’s streets and buildings to create an interactive app to reveal diverse stories and their links to Oxford’s buildings, spaces, and places.
The aim is to highlight and braid together the alternative, fringe and lesser known stories relating to people and places in and around Oxford. We welcome contributions from researchers for content. Formats can include a blog, podcast, interview fragment or video, but we welcome any creative and innovative ideas.

Bringing Student Voices into the Pitt Rivers Museum App
The second app will enable the Pitt Rivers Museum to unleash student voices within the context of the galleries. Oxford undergraduates and graduates will be enabled to create alternative interpretations of the collections, and assert new connections between objects and their origins, biographies, use and contemporary significance. These new perspectives will then delivered through an app to enrich the visitor experience.

The apps will be different in their contexts – one will be delivered within the discrete, curated public space of a museum, the other ‘in the wild’ across the city of Oxford - but both apps will bring creative new perspectives to Oxford’s diverse objects and places.
Both apps will be launched in 2018 - look out for further information on this via the TORCH Newsletter.

The Gaps Between Installation – Oxford City

Using prominent railings on iconic buildings in Oxford City Centre, the Gaps Between Installation included 18 images that celebrated Oxford’s alternative and sometimes hidden stories, using photographs, artwork and archival material aiming to widen the perception of ‘what is Oxford?’

The Gaps Between Installation was up from 14th June – 14th July 2017 in public spaces around Oxford.

For more information, please click here.

Humanities & Identities is bringing together researchers, practitioners, policy-makers, creative thinkers and wider communities interested in forms of self-identity past, present and future. We welcome innovative ideas for projects from researchers working across the humanities and beyond on areas that link to diversity and inclusivity. Please get in touch with TORCH with your ideas at

Image courtesy of Shutterstock, copyright Oksancia